How to Avoid Probate After Your Death

Probate can be an expensive, time-consuming, and confusing process. As such, you might be wondering what you can do to help your family avoid it after you die. If so, you will be pleased to learn that there is a wide variety of options available to you, including:

Living Trusts

In the state of California, it is possible to place almost any asset in a living trust. So, if you have a vehicle, house, or savings account that you want to hand down to a member of your family, hiring a San Diego estate planning lawyer to create a trust document might be the perfect option.

You will name yourself as the trustee of your living trust – which will make it possible for you to continue handling your assets while you remain alive. You will also choose a successor trustee who will take over once you pass away. They may then transfer your property to your beneficiaries without needing to go through the probate process.

Joint Ownership

Under California law, if you jointly own property with another person, they almost always become the sole owner when you pass away. They will not need to go through probate to take control of the asset.

The Golden State has two kinds of joint ownership. They are:

  • Joint Tenancy: When two or more people own an equal share of an asset
  • Community Property (with Right of Survivorship): When spouses or domestic partners acquire assets – unless one party takes steps to keep them separate

To ensure your jointly-held property does not need to go through probate after you pass away, you might want to have a seasoned California estate planning take a look at your ownership agreement and make amendments if necessary.


If you would like to grant ownership of your property to your family before you die, you can gift it to them. Doing so will help them take possession of the asset without having to go to probate court.

However, gifts of this nature have the potential to leave you with a sizable tax bill. As such, you would be smart to consult with an accountant before you pursue this estate planning option.

Payable-on-Death Designations

The state of California allows you to add a payable-on-death designation to just about any financial assets (bank accounts, certificates of deposit, etc.) you own. This designation will not impact your ability to access your funds while you are alive. However, it will give the beneficiary the right to claim the money from the bank without going through probate when you pass away.

Your Experienced San Diego Estate Planning Lawyer

Do you need a knowledgeable California estate planning attorney to help you avoid putting your family through the probate process? If so, you are in the right place! The Semanchik Law Group has been providing services of this nature to San Diego residents for years, and we would be happy to do the same for you. Give us a call at (619) 535-1811 or message us online to set up a consultation with a member of our team.